Plainly Put: Plane Power Play

As I've mentioned I play a lot of OpenTTD lately.

And I found a cozy server to play on.

While it's normally just me (Player 2) and one other (Player 1) there. We don't interact much, especially since they play the most when I'm at work. But there's something special about being the only people on the server. A kind of familiarity forms rather quickly, and because of our play time difference there really isn't any competition. By the time I enter a new game they've already amassed tens or even hundreds of millions of pounds, and for that matter I'm not really a competitive person anyway.

The other night something happened there. Relevant to the story is the fact that I'd never tried using planes in the game yet.

Onward to the story: A third player joined the game at around mid point in time and the balance suddenly shifted dramatically.

Player 3 didn't chat at all. They just set up the biggest airports available in all of the most populous cities. Cities that had grown big thanks to the work of Player 1 -- my perpetual ally on the server. As mentioned I'm not competitive but... I mean, they were piggy-backing off my sort-of-friend's achievements and generating insane amounts of wealth very quickly, climbing the chart and on track to overcome the perpetual winner.

Not okay in my book.

I watched what was happening for about 20 minutes and discovered how planes work.

Player 3 had already hogged all of the biggest cities. I decided that I was going to put up a fight. Here's the thing that they had overlooked: cities grow as they receive goods. The more they grow the more goods they generate.

I built airports in pretty much all cities that were left and set up as long routes as possible since longer routes are better paid. These cities don't generate much goods at first, but they grow quickly because of the fast rate at which they receive goods and subsequently give more and more goods very quickly.

Then I had to go to bed but the next morning the game had progressed to the year 2047, meaning it was soon about to reset. I was at the top of the leader board by a small margin as the game came to an end.

The point of the story is two-fold. First of all, it's apparently possible to trigger me. Secondly airplanes are absolutely ludicrous. A city of 1,000 inhabitants can often have more than 200 passengers waiting the airport at any given time, eager to escape to anywhere else. The fast movement and snowballing effects of airplane transport transform the game from a slow paced challenge of planning and optimisation into a challenge of spending money faster than you earn them. I ended the game with an amassed capital of almost £700 million. In the next game I focused entirely on planes and watched as the balance broke entirely.

I'm not sure I like that sort of gameplay. When I play single player games I start a lot earlier, using a few mods that add earlier vehicles. That means the addition of planes is far away. It's a much more relaxing sort of game.

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal